3 Vikings plead not guilty to charges in boat party

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
MINNETONKA, Minn. - Minnesota Vikings Daunte Culpepper, Bryant McKinnie and Fred Smoot have pleaded not guilty to charges related to the team's bawdy boating party.
A court clerk told The Associated Press on Wednesday that an attorney for Smoot entered a plea Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court and that pleas for Culpepper and McKinnie were entered late last month.
Culpepper, McKinnie, Smoot and teammate Moe Williams face three misdemeanor charges each related to the party Oct. 6 on Lake Minnetonka. They were charged with indecent conduct, disorderly conduct and lewd or lascivious conduct.
Williams' attorney, Joe Friedberg, said he will enter a plea of not guilty on Thursday.
Sheriff Pat McGowan said about 30 members of the team were identified as being among 90 people on two boats that cruised the lake west of Minneapolis during the Vikings' bye week.
The clerk said the players waived initial court appearances scheduled for Thursday. A pretrial conference was set for Feb. 2.
Prosecutor Steve Tallen said Wednesday that the case remains under investigation.
n JAGUARS: Linebacker Mike Peterson missed a second day of practice Wednesday, but said his sprained right wrist will not prevent him from playing against New England in the playoffs Saturday night.
Peterson injured his wrist Sunday against Tennessee when he dragged quarterback Matt Mauck down from behind in the first half. He has worn a cast the last three days and probably will play with some type of protective sheath against the Patriots.
"It's not a real big issue to me," he said. "I think the trainers and doctors are making more out of it than it is. I'm feeling good. I'm going to be out there. What I'm going to be out there with, I don't know. But I'm going to be out there."
Defensive ends Reggie Hayward (hamstring) and Paul Spicer (broken hand) also missed practice Wednesday and said they would play Saturday.
n BILLS: Team president Tom Donahoe is out, coach Mike Mularkey's job is safe, and guess who might be coming back? Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy, this time as general manager.
Bills owner Ralph Wilson on Wednesday wasted little time delivering on a vow to restructure his front office. The decisions came days after the underachieving Bills finished 5-11 and missed the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
Offensive coordinator Tom Clements was also fired, his agent, Gary O'Hagan, told The Associated Press. Mularkey declined to discuss any changes to his staff.
"I want to apologize to the fans of Buffalo, we haven't done a very good job for them," Wilson said. "I take responsibility of this organization, and if there's any bullets to be fired, you should fire them at me. However, in Tom's leaving, it is my feeling that we need a fresh start."
Fresh might be a matter of interpretation for the 87-year-old owner, who enjoyed bantering with reporters - kidding that this season's frustrations forced him to up his intake of Prozac pills - while announcing Donahoe's dismissal.
Wilson reclaimed the president's job, saying he will be more active in the day-to-day football operations of his franchise.
  • DOLPHINS: Miami offensive coordinator Scott Linehan wants to use the lessons he learned working with Dolphins coach Nick Saban to help turnaround the Houston Texans.
    Linehan was in Houston on Wednesday to interview for the job left vacant when Dom Capers was fired after the Texans finished their season with an NFL-worst record of 2-14.
    Miami won its last six games this season to finish 9-7, a five-game improvement from the previous year. Linehan said he saw Saban transform the "culture and attitude of the team."
    "Those are some of the things that are going to have to be addressed here and hopefully those would be some of the lessons I've been able to learn and maybe draw upon for this franchise," Linehan said.
    Linehan spent the 2005 season with the Dolphins after three years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Minnesota Vikings.
    Under Linehan's watch the Dolphins improved from near the bottom of the league in offense to 14th. He helped the Vikings become one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. The unit was ranked fourth in the league in 2004, No. 1 in 2003 and second in his first season.
    He has never been a head coach and said Wednesday this was the first time he'd interviewed for such a position.
    Houston also plans to interview several other candidates, including Denver's Gary Kubiak, Cam Cameron of San Diego, Kansas City's Al Saunders and Jerry Gray of Buffalo.
    Some speculated that Linehan would be a top candidate to coach the Vikings, but he said the Texans are the only team to contact him so far.
    Linehan got a firsthand look at the Texans offense in perhaps its most impressive game in history in 2004. Both David Carr and Andre Johnson had career days in a 34-28 overtime loss to the Vikings.
    Carr threw for a career-high 372 yards and three touchdowns and Johnson had 12 catches for 170 yards and two scores.
    Linehan was so impressed by Johnson's performance that he recited his statistics almost perfectly - he was just one catch off.
    "Andre Johnson is probably the young version of a Randy Moss," he said. "A guy that could dominate a game. I saw it in person."
    Houston's offense was ranked 30th in the NFL in 2005, averaging just 253.3 yards per game.
    Before moving to the NFL, Linehan worked as a college assistant for 13 years at Louisville, the University of Washington, Idaho and Nevada-Las Vegas.
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